DAVAO CITY, April 9 (PIA)- It is past one o'clock in the afternoon, the kitchen at the Asian Cow restaurant is a hubbub of activity. Pieces of chicken meat are fried on woks, a recently finished batch is then transferred to the dining area where the staff distributes pieces of fried chicken alongside cups of rice to hundreds of food packs laid out on the tables.
In the center of the activity is the restaurant proprietor chef Darence Patrick Co, the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent community quarantine may have temporarily shuttered his two restaurants. But he has transferred them into kitchens of hope, churning out more than a thousand free food packs every day where they are given to medical frontliners and to police and military personnel implementing the quarantine.
"We started this last March 16, we started out with 120 packs, then as the days progressed when people saw what we were doing and they began to help us in the project, the number of food packs grew. From 120, it became 500, then 600, last Monday we averaged 1,200 food packs a day," Patrick recalls.
The initial batch was for medical frontliners at the Southern Philippine Medical Center. He said the regular recipients are the policemen, soldiers and the City 911 personnel. There is a scheduled delivery for SPMC frontliners as they are also recipients of food donations from kind-hearted groups and individuals.
Chef Patrick Darence Co, owns the Fat Cow and Asian Cow restaurants in Davao City and is one of the up-and-coming restaurateurs in the city, with the slowdown in business he decided to find an activity for him and his staff.
"I don't have anything to do, and I have 32 staff. About 80% of them have families, if they do not have work, they have no money to support their families. I could not let that happen because when things were good, they were there with me, I do not want to leave them in this time of crisis," Patrick says.
The restaurant staff are well compensated plus they are housed at a nearby hotel in the duration of the quarantine in order to have unimpeded operations.
"I am also inspired by the frontliners, they protect us from COVID and in our own little ways, we nourish them so that they also become healthy," the 24-year old chef said.
The food pack project will turn one month old on April 16 and it has been sustained by donations from groups and individuals coming from different sectors. Among the donations include sacks of rice, meat and vegetables.
"Our food packs reflect the donations given, if there are vegetables, the packs will have veggies, if there is chicken, we will serve chicken, if pork is given we will have pork," Patrick says.
"It is up to the creativity of me and my chefs and how we will utilize the products that are given to us, these are not just delicious but also practical, it does not mean if these are just donations we will scrimp on quality. Our food packs are known for their quality, assurance of safety and generous servings," Patrick said.
Patrick aims to exceed 1,200 food packs per day after the holy week, and this is dependent on donations. He said cash donations are also welcome as at a certain extent the raw materials being donated will not be enough without the money to operate.
He said his restos are also open for limited business offering microwavable food like samgyupsal and pastas for customers who want takeouts.
At around four o'clock p.m., a police vehicle will drop by at the restaurant to pick up the food packs which will be delivered to various recipients across the city. Patrick will post the distribution activity on his Facebook account, the information will include the number of food packs and where it was given. Since March 16, he has given more than 20,000 food packs.
Tomorrow, the kitchens of Fat Cow and Asian Cow will again be busy. (PIA/RG Alama)